Meet the 2020-21 Student Association Leaders

Howard Brookins III and Brandon Hill are the new SA president and executive vice president.

April 13, 2020

Howard Brookins II

Howard Brookins III is the new Student Association president. (Photo courtesy Howard Brookins)

By Briahnna Brown

Even though Howard Brookins III is practicing social distancing in his hometown of Chicago, the newly-elected Student Association president has been working hard for his fellow students.

Mr. Brookins, a junior studying public policy and economics in the George Washington University School of Business, said that he wants to prioritize Code of Student Conduct reform during his term. He began work on the issue as an SA senator, and he wants to keep working with the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities to ensure that the university’s response to racism and anti-Semitism are proactive rather than reactive.

More than 3,800 GW students voted on Wednesday and Thursday for various SA leadership positions and referenda, according to the GW Joint Elections Commission. The election for SA president was done by ranked-choice to prevent the need for a runoff election. After five rounds of tabulating the votes, Mr. Brookins won the election with 1,733 votes. He said he’s glad that the election process is over, and he feels good about the outcome.

“It was an extremely close race, and I just really want to thank my opponents for running strong campaigns to make each and every one of us better," Mr. Brookins said.

Brandon Hill

Brandon Hill is the new Student Association executive vice president. (Photo courtesy Brandon Hill).

For executive vice president, students selected Brandon Hill with just over 87 percent of the vote. As a sophomore from Waldorf, Md., studying political communication in the School of Media and Public Affairs and human services and social justice in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Mr. Hill said that through this election he saw the importance of representing all marginalized communities rather than a select few.

He plans to use his term to advocate for enhanced campus accessibility, affordability and inclusivity throughout university spaces and services. He also wants to increase representation for the Mount Vernon campus and improve access to resources for students there as well.

“I am thankful for the overwhelming support I received, and I am truly grateful to have that support amongst the student body,” Mr. Hill said. “I am sure that having more people from marginalized communities in the room where decisions are being made will truly be impactful.”

GW students voted in favor of all five ballot initiatives this year, including adopting a new constitution in the SA and the creation of a separate graduate student government body at about 57 and 69 percent of the vote respectively. Additionally, about 84 percent of voters support the right of graduate students to unionize.

Just over 85 percent of voters were in favor of the Board of Trustees divesting the university endowment from fossil fuel investments and committing to no future investments in fossil fuel stocks, which was one of the sustainability issues of particular importance to Mr. Hill.

An overwhelming majority of students who voted—almost 94 percent—voted to include one undergraduate and one graduate student as voting members on the Board of Trustees. Mr. Brookins said he wants to ensure that referendum is enacted because it is something he advocated for while campaigning.

GW Board of Trustees Chair Grace Speights, J.D. '82, said that the board always welcomes feedback from students and considers their views.

"That’s why when students raised the question about board representation a few years ago, we listened, and a task force was formed of students and trustees to review other university boards and recommend the best approach for GW," Ms. Speights said. "Based on the task force’s recommendations, the board added both the Student Association president and Faculty Senate Executive Committee chair as non-voting observers and included student and faculty representation to all board task forces. The student and faculty observer positions on the board were made permanent in February when we amended our bylaws. Since these changes were just codified, we have no immediate plans to make additional changes, but the board will continue to consider the views of our community as we move forward.

"The board also listened to students’ views on disinvestment in fossil fuels and decided to establish a long-term proactive approach to managing environmental, social and governance responsibilities," Ms. Speights said. "The board created a task force to deal with key topics in this area, such as providing an institutional statement on beliefs on environmental, social and governance responsibility and addressing a broad range of environmental, social and governance issues. This will include a review of fossil fuel investment policies."